It's the weekend...

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

Finally, some sunshine is arriving in Seattle which is welcome news for us sun-starved Seattleites. It has been a bit bleak the last few weeks...

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I'm going to celebrate by wearing my new Clare V x TOMS leopard espadrilles (seen below). See the whole collection here...

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I likely won't wear them this week but I took advantage of Loeffler Randall's Friends + Family sale last week and finally pulled the trigger on these silver beauties that I have been eyeing the last six months. They are so soft and even more gorgeous in person...

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I've really been enjoying this adaptogenic take on a thai iced tea. Thrive Market has the best price on Sun Potion products by the way. And if you're not making your own, this Aroy-D coconut milk is my favorite one...

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Every time a DWR catalog arrives I linger on the LOLL lounge chairs. Some day I'd love to have a pair of these on the patio...

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I've been wanting to make these beautiful pancakes from Heidi Swanson and I think tomorrow is the day...

  Image from 101 Cookbooks

Image from 101 Cookbooks

Last week I finally watched Franca: Chaos and Creation and loved every minute of it. I might queue it up again this weekend...

  Photograph by Francesco Carrozzini via  Departures

Photograph by Francesco Carrozzini via Departures

I also am watching this tonight once the kiddo is in bed...

It is likely that I will be mixing up a margarita to enjoy in the sunshine at some point this weekend, but tonight I am drinking a glass of my favorite "house wine" that I've been buying locally at PCC (I have Olaiya to thank for the recommendation). And since I'm solo for dinner tonight (and my husband hates mushrooms) I'm looking forward to making this pea and mushroom sauté from Pamela Salzman that I will devour in peace.

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House Margarita

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

It is spring break this week and while most people we know made a mass exodus out of Seattle in search of sunshine (who can blame them) we are having a rather stellar staycation at home. Both my husband and I took the week off. I've been catching up on reading and when I haven't been reading I've been cooking and baking.

Another bright spot has been a visit from dear friends who live in Lake Tahoe that we haven't seen in a few years. When we get together it's like no time has passed. The company and conversation is always easy and there is always laughter. We also drank a few rounds of my "house margarita" which includes my most favorite spirit, mezcal. Yes, yes, and yes.

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A PERFECT MARGARITA

1 oz tequila

1 oz mezcal (I like Vida)

1 tablespoon agave syrup

Juice of 1 lime

Shake and pour over ice (I like these big cube molds for this)

*A note if making these for a crowd - I learned this tip from Julia Turshen. Simply quadruple this recipe (or more if you have a big crowd) and just whisk it all together in a big pitcher. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve and then pour over ice.

 

 

Living with Spaciousness

by Kelsi in , ,


Krista Tippett's conversation with Naomi Shihab Nye is one of the On Being conversations that I have listened to multiple times. Listening this time around it was this part about "living with spaciousness" that stuck with me the most...

MS. TIPPETT: Well, so — I’m very interested in general in this question of what poetry works in us. But I think even that question itself holds the implication that poetry is something separate, something distinct. But it seems that, in your sensibility, you see it as very organic. I mean, there’s — I think it was in some of your writing for poems by children, you said, “I do think that all of us think in poems.”

MS. SHIHAB NYE: I do. I do think that. And I think that is very important, not feeling separate from text, feeling sort of your thoughts as text or the world as it passes through you as a kind of text. The story that you would be telling to yourself about the street, even as you walk down it, or as you drive down it, as you look out the window, the story you would be telling — it always seemed very much to me, as a child, that I was living in a poem, that my life was the poem. And in fact, at this late date, I have started putting that on the board of any room I walk into that has a board.

I just came back from Japan a month ago, and in every classroom, I would just write on the board, “You are living in a poem.” And then I would write other things just relating to whatever we were doing in that class. But I found the students very intrigued by discussing that. “What do you mean, we’re living in a poem?” Or, “When? All the time, or just when someone talks about poetry?” And I’d say, “No, when you think, when you’re in a very quiet place, when you’re remembering, when you’re savoring an image, when you’re allowing your mind calmly to leap from one thought to another, that’s a poem. That’s what a poem does.” And they liked that.

And a girl, in fact, wrote me a note in Yokohama on the day that I was leaving her school that has come to be the most significant note any student has written me in years. She said, “Well, here in Japan, we have a concept called ‘yutori.’” And it is spaciousness. It’s a kind of living with spaciousness. For example, it’s leaving early enough to get somewhere so that you know you’re going to arrive early, so when you get there, you have time to look around. Or — and then she gave all these different definitions of what yutori was to her.

But one of them was — and after you read a poem just knowing you can hold it, you can be in that space of the poem. And it can hold you in its space. And you don’t have to explain it. You don’t have to paraphrase it. You just hold it, and it allows you to see differently. And I just love that. I mean, I think that’s what I’ve been trying to say all these years. I should have studied Japanese. [laughs] Maybe that’s where all our answers are. In Japanese.


The Kitchen

by Kelsi in ,


 

I can't believe a year and a half has passed since our kitchen remodel wrapped up. After living with the before kitchen for nearly eight years, with a barely working fridge, a finicky oven, dingy paint and mustard linoleum floors, cooking and just spending time in this still new-to-me space is a dream. If I have emails to write I stand at the counter. It is my "office" and my favorite place in the house.

Side note: it is also quite convenient to live with a talented interiors photographer that you can ask to take some after shots...

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A few basics - the walls and cabinetry are "Simply White" from Benjamin Moore. This is our favorite white. It is clean, not too blue or yellow and even on those dark and dreary winter days, it always feels warm and cozy. Nearly every wall of our house, both inside and out (see below), is painted Simply White. The moulding and doors throughout the house as well as the kitchen floor (which is just the fir sub-floor that was underneath the linoleum) are painted a brighter, cooler, "Decorator's White."

The counters and shelves are untreated walnut rubbed with this butcher block oil.

Drawer pulls: Schoolhouse Electric; Induction Cooktop + Dishwasher: Miele; Oven + Refrigerator: KitchenAid; Rug: Homestead Seattle; Magnetic Knife Strip (18" walnut)

  Our "Simply White" exterior

Our "Simply White" exterior

Necessities that are always on the counter (as seen in the photos above)...

Vitamix; Berkey Filter; Breville Oven; Sonos; Olive Oil bottle for my favorite finishing olive oil; Menu pepper grinder (I use one for pepper and the other as a spice mill); Hario kettle + teak trivet; spoon rest, Heath tray with French butter keeper and Maldon salt; Olive wood salt cellar (similar here) for kosher salt; coffee grinder; basket with towels

And on the shelves...

Heath Ceramics plates, bowls (mine are almost entirely vintage though all are still available in opaque white), pasta bowlslarge and small mugs; Hario glass carafe + Blue Bottle ceramic dripper; All Clad cookware; Staub 7qt oven; Lodge griddle; Le Creuset cast-iron skillet; stainless bowls; glass bowls; Instant Pot; Bodega glasses; Duralex Picardie 8 oz glasses

coffee drawer.JPG

Other favorite tools etc...

Stick blender; storage clips and also these; plastic mason jar lids; glass straws; scale; 6" ceramic ginger grater; cookie scoops in several sizes; Joyce Chen scissorsstainless scraper + plastic scraper; Blue Bottle coffee filters

GIR Spatulas - regular + mini; GIR ladle; Thermapen; Microplanes - this and this; stainless whisks large and smallcan opener; two sets of measuring cups; 4 cup and 2 cup liquid measuring cups; two mini liquid measuring cups; two sets of measuring spoons

Zyliss peelers (two); various sized Ateco spatulas; funnels similar to these; canning funnel (useful for WAY more than canning - use for pouring and storing stocks, soups, beans, fruit sauce); tongs; meat tenderizer; fine mesh strainers like this and this; stainless skewers; grater; salad spinner

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Due Buoi stainless spatulas - these may just be one of my very favorite tools in the kitchen. I bought a wide and a slim one from Williams Sonoma a few years ago but now I can only find them here and here. They are so thin and so versatile from cooking pancakes on the griddle, flipping fish, smashing burgers or lifting brownies out of the pan.

We have really basic flatware from Crate and Barrel. This stuff does the job, looks and feels great to hold and it is super affordable. Eventually I'd like to add my dream David Mellor flatware to the mix...

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The remaining things that are stashed below the cooktop...

Sheet pans both half and quarter sizes; cooling racks; 13" Staub enameled cast-iron pan; a gorgeous carbon steel pan made locally by Blu Skillet Ironware that our dear friends Omar and Lora gave us to celebrate the kitchen; small butter warmer; Staub ceramic baking dishes

Epicurean cutting boards - large, small, and a black one used specifically for meat. A note on these - I have two large "official" looking cutting boards, one maple and one walnut, that are beasts. They are beautiful, but oh-so-heavy and unwieldy and take much more effort to wash and care for. These slim ones can easily slip into the dishwasher and save me time which I really appreciate.

For spices I highly recommend frequenting your grocery store's bulk section. I prefer PCC locally. They are fresher and WAY cheaper. You can also buy the containers there. I keep blue painter's tape and a Sharpie in a kitchen drawer to label spices and anything and everything else. Chicken stocks, soups, sauces, a just opened jar of tomato paste...

spice drawer.jpg

I do not have a pantry so I have to find room for everything in three drawers. I store a lot in jars like these from Bormioli Rocco which almost all of my local grocers carry. I keep my Blue Bottle coffee beans in this canister...

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Thankfully I also have this amazing corner storage from Hafale where most of my baking stuff and more goes...

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My good friend Rita introduced me to this magic piece of German engineering in her own kitchen, and it was a must have when we were planning out our remodel...

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I keep this small folding stool handy so I can easily access the cabinet above the fridge where I keep things I don't use as often. This ceramic waffle iron, cake pans, spiralizer and my giant 10qt stainless bowl...

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The only kitchen necessity that I can't store in the kitchen is my Breville food processor. It is indispensable but given my limited storage space it has to live down the hall in the closet. I just upgraded to this one (recommended by Pamela Salzman) when my old Cuisinart finally bit the dust over the holidays. Talk about an upgrade. This one is insane. It is almost worth it for the adjustable slicing blade alone.

Phew! That was a lot but long overdue. Home (and the kitchen) is where my heart is.

 

Easter Weekend

by Kelsi in , , ,


 

Along with chocolate bunny eating and hanging with family this weekend, I'm excited to spend some quality time with my new book, Rules of Civility...

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I'm also making this beautiful, herby potato salad from Nadine Redzepi's cookbook. I checked it out from the library a few months back and loved it so much I had to buy it. It's one of my new favorites...

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I really hope to spend some time in the garden while the sun makes an appearance. I have seeds to plant, mostly salad greens, and my new Row 7 beets!

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It is a little early to put them in the dirt, but my dahlia tubers from Floret arrived today!

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I'm also going to be wearing this sweet jacket I just got from (surprise) Everlane. Seeing as I already have two army green jackets that I love, I got the black one. But if you don't already have an army colored jacket in your closet, get the surplus one. It will be a staple that you will wear year round...

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Also on the fashion front, check out this recent shot of the editors at French Vogue. Perfection as always...

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Last thing for now, I LOVE this mascara from Burt's Bees. (I've found it locally in Seattle at Bartell Drugs.) I'm not usually a regular mascara wearer, but I really dig this one. I learned about it from Katey Denno (celebrity makeup artist and green beauty aficionado), whom I've followed the last several years. I'll write more about Katey at some point, but I adore her. And if she loves/recommends a beauty product, I'm in...

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Happy weekend and happy spring!

 

How to Break Up With Your Phone

by Kelsi in , , , , , ,


 

I'm not sure where I first saw the image below but it resonated strongly with me. Often when I have a break teaching and walk down to the coffee shop I pass person after person looking down, only to open the door to a room full of people again looking down, and stand in line to order my coffee behind a handful of people each one, again, looking down...

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Our lives are what we pay attention to.

I hope this slim and life-changing book by Catherine Price becomes as ubiquitous as another slim and life-changing book I love. Read more about it here and also here.

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At home we follow a 24 hour "tech sabbath" beginning Friday at 8pm until Saturday at 8pm (which Price mentions) which has been a game changer. I first learned about the idea of a "tech sabbath" from Tiffany Shlain and her converstation with Krista Tippett.

Do yourself (and your kids) a favor and read this book.

 

Kitchen Basics - Homemade Coconut Milk

by Kelsi in ,


 

I wrote a few weeks ago about the simplicity of making hemp milk. Another plant-based milk I've been making regularly is coconut milk, which is just as easy.

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Add 3 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut to your high-speed blender. Pour in 4 cups of hot water and let steep for 5 minutes. Then blend on high for one minute or so. Let cool a bit if it's too hot to handle then strain through cheesecloth or a nut milk bag

Store in the fridge for up to 4 days and shake before using.

 

Brain Pickings - 10 Learnings

by Kelsi in ,


 

The following list is written by the incredible Maria Popova of her incredible site Brain Pickings (I also mentioned her here). I can never get over how much she reads, researches, and contemplates and how she can articulate it all so beautifully.

"Brain Pickings is my one-woman labor of love — a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why. Mostly, it’s a record of my own becoming as a person — intellectually, creatively, spiritually — and an inquiry into how to live and what it means to lead a good life."

This is a list to revisit often, and a "code" to live by.

***

1. Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.Cultivate that capacity for “negative capability.” We live in a culture where one of the greatest social disgraces is not having an opinion, so we often form our “opinions” based on superficial impressions or the borrowed ideas of others, without investing the time and thought that cultivating true conviction necessitates. We then go around asserting these donned opinions and clinging to them as anchors to our own reality. It’s enormously disorienting to simply say, “I don’t know.” But it’s infinitely more rewarding to understand than to be right — even if that means changing your mind about a topic, an ideology, or, above all, yourself.

2. Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone. As Paul Graham observed, “prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.” Those extrinsic motivators are fine and can feel life-affirming in the moment, but they ultimately don’t make it thrilling to get up in the morning and gratifying to go to sleep at night — and, in fact, they can often distract and detract from the things that do offer those deeper rewards.

3. Be generous. Be generous with your time and your resources and with giving credit and, especially, with your words. It’s so much easier to be a critic than a celebrator. Always remember there is a human being on the other end of every exchange and behind every cultural artifact being critiqued. To understand and be understood, those are among life’s greatest gifts, and every interaction is an opportunity to exchange them.

4. Build pockets of stillness into your life. Meditate. Go for walks. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular. There is a creative purpose to daydreaming, even to boredom. The best ideas come to us when we stop actively trying to coax the muse into manifesting and let the fragments of experience float around our unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations. Without this essential stage of unconscious processing, the entire flow of the creative process is broken.

Most important, sleep. Besides being the greatest creative aphrodisiac, sleep also affects our every waking momentdictates our social rhythm, and even mediates our negative moods. Be as religious and disciplined about your sleep as you are about your work. We tend to wear our ability to get by on little sleep as some sort of badge of honor that validates our work ethic. But what it really is is a profound failure of self-respect and of priorities. What could possibly be more important than your health and your sanity, from which all else springs?

5. When people tell you who they are, Maya Angelou famously advised, believe them. Just as important, however, when people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them. You are the only custodian of your own integrity, and the assumptions made by those that misunderstand who you are and what you stand for reveal a great deal about them and absolutely nothing about you.

6. Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity. Ours is a culture that measures our worth as human beings by our efficiency, our earnings, our ability to perform this or that. The cult of productivity has its place, but worshipping at its altar daily robs us of the very capacity for joy and wonder that makes life worth living — for, as Annie Dillard memorably put it, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

7. “Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.” This is borrowed from the wise and wonderful Debbie Millman, for it’s hard to better capture something so fundamental yet so impatiently overlooked in our culture of immediacy. The myth of the overnight success is just that — a myth — as well as a reminder that our present definition of success needs serious retuning. As I’ve reflected elsewhere, the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we’re disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny.

8. Seek out what magnifies your spirit. Patti Smith, in discussing William Blake and her creative influences, talks about writers and artists who magnified her spirit — it’s a beautiful phrase and a beautiful notion. Who are the people, ideas, and books that magnify your spirit? Find them, hold on to them, and visit them often. Use them not only as a remedy once spiritual malaise has already infected your vitality but as a vaccine administered while you are healthy to protect your radiance.

9. Don’t be afraid to be an idealist. There is much to be said for our responsibility as creators and consumers of that constant dynamic interaction we call culture — which side of the fault line between catering and creating are we to stand on? The commercial enterprise is conditioning us to believe that the road to success is paved with catering to existing demands — give the people cat GIFs, the narrative goes, because cat GIFs are what the people want. But E.B. White, one of our last great idealists, was eternally right when he asserted half a century ago that the role of the writer is “to lift people up, not lower them down” — a role each of us is called to with increasing urgency, whatever cog we may be in the machinery of society. Supply creates its own demand. Only by consistently supplying it can we hope to increase the demand for the substantive over the superficial — in our individual lives and in the collective dream called culture.

10. Don’t just resist cynicism — fight it actively. Fight it in yourself, for this ungainly beast lays dormant in each of us, and counter it in those you love and engage with, by modeling its opposite. Cynicism often masquerades as nobler faculties and dispositions, but is categorically inferior. Unlike that great Rilkean life-expanding doubt, it is a contracting force. Unlike critical thinking, that pillar of reason and necessary counterpart to hope, it is inherently uncreative, unconstructive, and spiritually corrosive. Life, like the universe itself, tolerates no stasis — in the absence of growth, decay usurps the order. Like all forms of destruction, cynicism is infinitely easier and lazier than construction. There is nothing more difficult yet more gratifying in our society than living with sincerity and acting from a place of largehearted, constructive, rational faith in the human spirit, continually bending toward growth and betterment. This remains the most potent antidote to cynicism. Today, especially, it is an act of courage and resistance.

 

March 4

by Kelsi in , , , ,


 

Ah Sunday. My favorite day of the week. Just today I feel like the cold I've been carrying around the last two weeks is finally on its way out. Right now as I type, I have some blueberry sauce bubbling away on the stove, laundry ready to be folded and a fridge that needs to be cleaned out and a grocery list to be made. This is the stuff of my days off, the basic routines and rituals that make me happy.

Also on task for today, I am attempting to make preserved lemons for the first time with the help of Renee Erickson's lovely cookbook...

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The light this week has changed and it finally feels like Spring is nearing. My rhubarb thinks so too...

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My raised garden beds still need some fresh dirt and amendments to get ready for planting but the prospect of digging in the dirt and getting things going puts a smile on my face. I am even more enthusiastic after reading about Dan Barber's new seed companyRow 7.

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Dan Barber's On Being conversation is among my top five (I mentioned it back here) and in that conversation he spoke about why pursuing flavor matters...

***

MS. TIPPETT: Right. And this wonderful — I don't know why it's surprising, but surprisingly, between doing the right thing and doing the ethical thing, is also the pleasurable thing. And that sustainability is also about resurrecting flavor.

MR. BARBER: Yeah. And the most pleasurable thing and the most delicious, so that they're all run along parallel lines. I mean, that's the serendipity of what I do, which is that, you know, my shiv is like I want to cook good food and it's in the pursuit of great flavor. It just so happens that you're attached to great ecology by definition. I mean, this is one of those things that's so axiomatic we forget. I think it's part because of what you mentioned. We went through this period, especially in the United States, where we're so removed from how food was grown and where it's coming from and who was growing it that we forget just the most obvious thing is that a delicious carrot, a delicious slice of lamb, has attached to it these decisions in the pasture and the field that are both thoughtful and intensely ethical as well as ecological, that you can't have an unethically raised lamb, an unthoughtfully raised carrot, and have a delicious lamb and carrot dish. It's impossible. Even the greatest chefs couldn't do that.

AND THIS...

MR. BARBER: There's two things really quick. The first is that I think one of the things that's been overlooked in this issue that we've talking about is breeders. I'm not talking about bioengineering, genetically modifying seeds. I'm talking about old-school breeders. At Cornell, they're like the hippies that came in the '70s that are there and have seeds literally in their desk drawers that we've been growing now; unnamed varieties of tomatoes, unnamed varieties of onions, unnamed varieties of squash have been sitting for years in the desks of these breeders.

So these breeders — and they are largely retiring, at least at Cornell — are the ones who have literally a vault — literally a vault — of information that I think is going to be so important as we transition away from the conventional mindset of agriculture and into this more regional look at agriculture, which is going to rely on these seeds that can withstand the challenges of growing locally and in a diverse system. So I'm really excited about that and I'm working with Jack Algiere and with a lot of these breeders in trying to get them to stay on and work more with us. What they say to me over and over again is, "No one's ever asked me about flavor." I hear it every time from the breeders. It was like clockwork, it's so weird. No one asks me about flavor. They always ask me about yield and about disease resistance. They're just like all we have to do is select for flavor.

***

I  want to try them all, but am going to start with the Badger Flame beet, Robin's Koginut squash, that tiny beautiful 898 squash, and the 7082 cucumber.

  Image from  Net-a-Porter

Image from Net-a-Porter

On the Spring fashion front, Trenchcoats are in and I like the way they're being styled. Time to pull mine out of the back of the closet. I have a great one from Everlane, but think this one from Zara is super cute!

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I also love these new little suede sandals from Loeffler Randall...

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I think I'm adding them to the wishlist...

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If you don't have anything in mind for dinner tonight, you should cook this simple and delicious dal with lime kale from Tejal Rao...

We devoured this last week and I plan to make it again this week. While you're at it read Tejal's guide on how to cook rice...

In fact, all the these NYT cooking guides are just fantastic resources. Even if you know your way around the kitchen, you'll learn some perfect little tip. 

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A few great ones...

How to Make Soup

How to Cook Asparagus

Basic Knife Skills

How to Use an Instant Pot

How to Cook Beans

My big plan for the evening is to sit by the fire and read my new book...

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A pretty perfect Sunday.

 

A WEEK OFF...

by Kelsi in , , ,


 
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My son was off from school last week for Presidents' break. I worked a bit but took some time off to hang out with him and friends and visit our favorite doughnut shop...

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Later in the week I was forced to stay home and rest with yet another cold. What is it with this year?! Sam Sifton's newsletter on Monday was so spot on it made me chuckle...

Good morning. It is Presidents’ Day and, for some of us, that fact comes just in time, after weeks of February grimness, always heading off to work in the dark, heading home in the same, going to the store, cooking and eating and cleaning and walking the dog, then pitchpoling into bed only to explore the house cautiously a few hours later, wondering: Which one of us is sick today?

If you don't already subscribe to Sam's New York Times Cooking newsletter, go do that.

I added Heidi Swanson's Instant Pot Dynamite Cold Tonic to my immune support arsenal. I added the juice of 1/2 a lemon and a bit more honey to my mug...

  Image from  101 Cookbooks

Image from 101 Cookbooks

By the way, Heidi also has a fantastic Instant Pot guide. You'll find her own beautiful recipes like this mushroom stroganoff, and this minestrone (which I made three times in the last two weeks with a few tweaks) but also a compilation of other links, cooking guides and helpful tips.

While I was taking it easy I finally watched Zootopia and enjoyed it SO. VERY. MUCH...

  photo from  Rolling Stone

photo from Rolling Stone

I thought Peter Travers summed it up perfectly:

The last thing you’d expect from a new Disney animated marshmallow is balls. But, hot damn, Zootopia comes ready to party hard. This baby has attitude, a potent feminist streak, a tough take on racism, and a  cinema-centric plot that references The Godfather, Chinatown and L.A. Confidential. The kids, paying zero attention to such things, will love it. But the grownups will have even more fun digging in.

But hands down the very best thing I watched this week was this gorgeous pair. They are breathtaking. I've re-watched their free program over and over. Their artistry together is just beyond...

I plan to spend the rest of my Sunday cooking something simple for dinner (most likely reheating leftovers), drinking immune support tea, slathering on a favorite face mask, and enjoying a long shower and scrub down with my favorite new discovery, this Kahina Moroccan Beldi Soap (also available on Amazon)...

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It is incredible lathered up using one of those fantastic little rayon mitts from the Korean spa. (If you have never been to the Korean spa for this experience, you can read a little about the mitt and the ritual here.) Scrub it all over for the smoothest and softest skin imaginable.